Hugh Pickens writes writes "Innovation News reports that the US Navy plans to upgrade its robotic Fire Scouts with electronic "brains" that are able to automatically recognize small pirate boats spotted through 3D laser imaging by bouncing millions of laser pulses off distant objects to create a 3D "radar" image of any boats on the high seas — a technology known as LIDAR or LADAR — so that their new software could automatically compare the 3D images to pirate boat profiles on record. "The automatic target recognition software gives Fire Scout the ability to distinguish target boats in congested coastal waters using LADAR, and it sends that information to human operators, who can then analyze those vessels in a 3D picture," says Ken Heeke. Having smarter robotic helicopters could ease the workload strain for Navy sailors, who must otherwise eyeball the data coming from the new Multi-Mode Sensor Seeker (MMSS) — a sensor mix of high-definition cameras, mid-wave infrared sensors and the 3D LADAR technology. Meanwhile, the Navy has begun testing other new technologies to tackle the problem of piracy — an especially thorny issue because of Somali pirates attacking ships off the coast of East Africa. Its more forceful countermeasures include a combination of lasers and machine guns, as well as swarms of smart rockets capable of picking out their own small boat targets."